Experimental lung research

Bioavailability of beryllium oxide particles: an in vitro study in the murine J774A.1 macrophage cell line model.

PMID 15962713


Beryllium metal and its oxide and alloys are materials of industrial significance with recognized adverse effects on worker health. Currently, the degree of risk associated with exposure to these materials in the workplace is assessed through measurement of beryllium aerosol mass concentration. Compliance with the current mass-based occupational exposure limit has proven ineffective at eliminating the occurrence of chronic beryllium disease (CBD). The rationale for this research was to examine the mechanism of beryllium bioavailability, which may be pertinent to risk. The authors tested the hypothesis in vitro that dissolution of particles engulfed by macrophages is greater than dissolution in cellular medium alone. Physicochemical changes were evaluated in vitro for well-characterized high-purity beryllium oxide (BeO) particles in cell-free media alone and engulfed by and retained within murine J774A.1 monocyte-macrophage cells. The BeO particles were from a commercially available powder and consisted of diffuse clusters (aerodynamic diameter range 1.5 to 2.5 microm) of 200-nm diameter primary particles. Following incubation for 124 to 144 hours, particles were recovered and recharacterized. Recovered particles were similar in morphology, chemical composition, and size relative to the original material, confirming the relatively insoluble nature of the BeO particles. Measurable levels of dissolved beryllium, representing 0.3% to 4.8% of the estimated total beryllium mass added, were measured in the recovered intracellular fluid. Dissolved beryllium was not detected in the extracellular media. The BeO chemical dissolution rate constant in the J774A. 1 cells was 2.1 +/- 1.7 x 10(-8)g/(cm2 . day). In contrast, the BeO chemical dissolution rate constant in cell-free media was < 8.1 x 10(-9)g/(cm2 . day). In vivo, beryllium dissolved by macrophages may be released in the pulmonary alveolar environment, in the lymphatic system after transport of beryllium by macrophages, or in the alveolar interstitium after migration and dissolution of beryllium particles in tissue. These findings demonstrate a mechanism of bioavailability for beryllium, are consistent with previously observed results in canine alveolar macrophages, and provide insights into additional research needs to understand and prevent beryllium sensitization and CBD.

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Beryllium oxide, 99.98% trace metals basis